‘new wind farm planning laws has “driven a nail in the coffin” of plans to establish green manufacturing in the Latrobe Valley’

Nail in the coffin: Mighell

This article comes from the Latrobe Valley Express, journalist: JARROD WHITTAKER

THE introduction of restrictive new wind farm planning laws has “driven a nail in the coffin” of plans to establish green manufacturing in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria’s state’s top electrical unionist has warned.

Electrical Trades Union Victorian secretary Dean Mighell said restrictions introduced by the Baillieu Government, which restrict where wind farms can be located, would drive renewable jobs interstate.

“It kills real prospect of establishing those jobs we think should be established in the Valley, on the back of what we did with Siemens (to construct wind turbines in the region) 12 years ago,” Mr Mighell said.

The State Government’s planning amendment prohibits the construction of wind turbines within two kilometres of an existing property unless there is written permission from the owner.

It also prevents turbines being established in national and state parks, in addition to a number of regions including the Yarra Valley, Ballarine Peninsula and Bass Coast.

The ETU has previously sought Federal Government support for the establishment of wind turbine manufacturing in the Latrobe Valley to assist with job creation following a shift away from coal-fired power generation.

Mr Mighell sought government support to attract green manufacturing jobs to the region after his union indicated it would oppose the carbon tax due to a perceived lack of alternative energy jobs in the government’s carbon package.

However, State Member for Morwell Russell Northe said he was not aware of any proposal to construct wind turbines in the Latrobe Valley, but indicated his support for establishing alternative industries in the region.

“We would love to see the Latrobe Valley and wider Gippsland be the energy capital of Victoria, whether that should be through the use of brown coal through a cleaner environmental manner or manufacturing cleaner energy products,” Mr Northe said.

He said the State Government’s new rules would provide certainty to the wind manufacturing industry while delivering on a Coalition election promise.

“This policy has been well understood for a long period of time and we believe it strikes the right balance between community needs and provides some certainty for wind energy development,” Mr Northe said.

Following the announcement the Clean Energy Council said the decision would cost Victoria’s economy about $3 billion in investment.

The statement accused the State Government of “carving out” large sections of the state as “no-go zones” and sending a message that the state was closed to future wind-generation opportunities.

Gippsland Trades and Labour Council secretary John Parker said his organisation supported establishing wind farm industries in Gippsland, but believed the bulk of their components would be established in high-wind areas such as Portland.

GTLC is attempting to develop low-carbon industry transition plans for the region and Mr Parker said he supported exclusion zones around properties.

“If you don’t do that you will wind up running out of social licence (for the wind farms), the protest will get too loud and that’s what happened in the Bass Coast,” Mr Parker said.

However, he said he did not support banning the development of wind farms in whole regions, except where it would impact on another industry.

“There are areas in the Bass Coast which are not environmentally sensitive to having wind farms and it would be silly for them to (ban) a complete region,” Mr Parker said.

7 thoughts on “‘new wind farm planning laws has “driven a nail in the coffin” of plans to establish green manufacturing in the Latrobe Valley’

  1. it’s curious that the State government would ban wind farms in the ‘Valley in the light of a possible carbon tax, and the proposed shutting down of the dirty brown coal power stations. After all, as brown coal is withdrawn, where would alternative power come from if not from wind farms?

    Maybe there is a plot to convert to gas powered generation. This could be a slick policy move that signals an apparent victory for those opposing wind farms on health or amenity grounds, creates jobs during the transition phase to gas, reduces CO2 emissions somewhat, and keeps some parts of the fossil fuel industry smiling. And still collect the Federal hand-out for changing the emissions. The finite nature of gas and the higher costs can be borne by unseen other parties.

    Just a thought, I have no special knowledge that this is the case…

  2. It’s not wind farms themselves that are likely to be built in the Valley (like many valleys, it has poor wind resources). Mighell has instead been calling for a renewable energy manufacturing hub in the Valley, to replace jobs lost from the coal industry. As the article points out, Siemens wind turbines were previously built (just a few) in the Valley out of State Electricity Commission workshops. As I understand, that project was killed off with privatisation in the 1990s.

  3. Everything will be made in china, just like everything else, dont get to carried away on the jobs angle, we’ve been hearing about job creation for years, but are yet to see many, why because its simply cheaper to get things made in china.

  4. Well, we already have hundreds of wind jobs at around the country (35 permanent jobs at Waubra for example). In addition, there are many design engineering, civil works (roads, foundations), electrical and fabrication jobs in the construction phase. We temporarily had a manufacturing capability in Australia, but the boom and bust nature of our renewables industry put an end to that for a while…

  5. Come on Alex,

    Honestly, you left wing greenie crazies are prepared to just make stuff up to try and prove your point, aren’t you?

    As Mick points out – all us ‘real’ country folk know they’re not real jobs. In reality, all the wind farms are put up at night by (non unionised) elves and fairies, and we ship them off overseas as soon as the turbines are finished so they don’t put a burden on our healthcare system or try and claim the dole. And the few jobs that do exist in running the turbines are all done by out of work phone canvassers from Mumbai.

    So, take all your pretend latte quaffing watermelon jobs back to Russia and leave us sensible folk to enjoy the rest of the 1950s.

  6. Isnt it about power generation not jobs?
    Why is this jobs thing pushed so hard by the proponents of wind energy is it because they are using it as a smokescreen to cover up the fact they produce unreliable electricity?

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